No one. No one could have counted on a Justin Thomas win at the PGA Championship on Sunday morning. Still, the American came from behind by seven shots to defeat Will Zalatoris in overtime and claim his second major tournament title.
Updated May 22
On rare occasions, the PGA Championship was decided in overtime. A novelty since 2011. An extension of three holes to 13me17me and 18me. This is where the tournament was played. None of the previous 72 holes mattered. Justin Thomas and Will Zalatoris. The teacher against the student. A former tournament champion against a young Texan with no title on his record.
at 13me, a 541-yard par five, the easiest hole of the day, both players made a birdie. Thomas hit his tee shot into the tall grass on the right, but without too much difficulty he got out of the jam. Then, with his fairway wedge, with which he has always been very successful, he hit the ball close to the hole.
For his part, Zalatoris made a perfect tee shot, a precise approach shot and needed two putts.
Thomas took the lead at 17me hole thanks to a tee shot that hit the green directly. A shot that he described as “wonderful” after the game. His long putt for the eagle fell short, but he made the birdie.
On this same 302-yard par four, Zalatoris pushed his ball to the right, at the edge of long grass. After a successful approach, he sent his putt a short distance, too far to the left, as happened too often over the weekend.
On the final overtime hole, a 490-yard par four, the hardest hole on the course, Zalatoris hit a very good tee shot down the middle of the fairway. Except he put in too much backspin and his ball landed in front of the green. It took a miracle for him to stop the roll, but to no avail.
” I can do it [gagner un tournoi majeur]. I’m around. I didn’t play well yesterday. I fought hard today. I’m close and I’m super motivated. I’m going to have one soon,” said Zalatoris, who is now five top 10 in his first eight major tournaments.
Thomas kicked his ball to the right, almost into the creek. Confident and in complete control, his approach shot shone to the left of the green. He was one shot ahead, so he could afford two putts. What he did to get his second major title. He hugged his younger brother. His wife and his parents came to meet him on the 18th green.me hole. The crowd began to chant “JT! JT! JT! “. An extremely popular victory for Justin Thomas. Thus, he won the PGA Championship for the second time after his triumph in 2017.
an unexpected victory
Although he had played well on Thursday and Friday with rounds of 67 (-3), the 29-year-old was believed to have ruined all his chances on Saturday with a difficult round of 74 (+4).
Observers even spoke of a baptism of fire, because the leaders and the most serious contenders were all young players in search of their first PGA Tour title.
In the end, neither Pereira, nor Zalatoris, nor Young nor Ancer had what it took to win a big tournament.
Lagging seven shots earlier in the day, Thomas wowed the gallery with iron focus and unnerving consistency. He got off to a rocky start returning an equal score in the first nine.
It was in the last nine when the machine started with three birdies, including one of capital importance on the 17th.methat allowed him to access the extension, at – 5.
“I don’t know, it was a weird day. We try to play well despite the pitch. No advance payment is guaranteed. I can’t believe I went into extra time”, he explained when handing over the trophy. He had just closed the third largest deficit in the history of major tournaments.
The stampede of Mito Pereira
Thomas certainly won the tournament, but it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Mito Pereira didn’t lose the tournament either. With a three-shot lead at the start of the final round, Pereira had a good game, especially as he was being chased by players who, like him, did not have any PGA Tour wins.
“It’s hard to finish like this. I didn’t play very well today. I should have done a little more to win. […] It will allow me to learn for the future”, he said after his match.
The Chilean started his round cautiously and was quickly caught by his pursuers. He regained the lead on the fifth hole and saved the game on the ninth after a walk through the woods, into the sand trap, to finally thread the needle thanks to a long curved putt.
Pereira has managed to get out of trouble many times. He will have allowed him to survive a few holes, but he is also what will have cost him the tournament.
After erratic shots from the fairways or behind the green, he often came back with a brilliant shot, but too often he played on the tightrope and the tightrope walker ended up falling.
Had five bogeys before reaching 18me. On the last hole he had missed the birdie by an inch; his Titleist ball refused to fall into the cup. He still had a priority shot over Thomas and Zalatoris. However, he decided to play boldly, and it was fatal. He hit his tee shot wide to the right, into the little creek at the edge of the fairway. He had tried to reduce his momentum to keep his ball low.
“I wasn’t thinking about the water. It’s weird that my ball ended up there. There was so much pressure that maybe he didn’t control or feel everything he was doing. »
He failed to play par, missed both of his approach shots and finished the tournament with double bogey and a -4 card.